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Durante (Jimmy) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Title: Jimmy Durante papers
    Creator: Durante, Jimmy
    Identifier/Call Number: PASC-M.0195
    Physical Description: 150 Linear Feet (342 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1920s-circa 1990
    Abstract: Jimmy Durante had a decades-long career as a musician, songwriter, comedian, and actor. The collection consists of script material, scrapbooks, photographs, written music, audio recordings, printed material and ephemera, and a small amount of correspondence documenting Durante's extensive career as an entertainer on stage, radio, film, and television.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: This collection contains both processed and unprocessed audiovisual materials. Audiovisual materials are not currently available for access, unless otherwise noted in a Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note at the series and file levels. All requests to access processed digital materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Property rights to the physical objects belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. All other rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Jimmy Durante papers (Collection PASC-M 195). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Margaret A. Durante, 2000-2001.

    Processing Information

    Collections are processed to a variety of levels depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived user interest and research value, availability of staff and resources, and competing priorities. Library Special Collections provides a standard level of preservation and access for all collections and, when time and resources permit, conducts more intensive processing. These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards and best practices.
    Processed by Alexandra Apolloni, under the supervision of Julie Graham.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 4434622 


    Born James Francis Durante in 1893 on the Lower East Side of New York to working-class Italian immigrant parents, Durante had began his performing career playing for parties at age 15, and by 1910, was performing in clubs on Coney Island. He worked for numerous clubs in New York City, performing with the Original New Orleans Jazz Band and Jimmy Durante's Jazz Band. In 1923, with partners Eddie Jackson, Harry Harris and Frank Nolan, he opened Club Durant, where he, Jackson, and Lou Clayton developed the raucous comedy act that would bring them fame on Vaudeville stages as Clayton, Jackson, and Durante. The trio made their Vaudeville debut in March of 1927, and went on to headline at the Palace Theatre and appeared in Florenz Zeigfield's revue Show Girl, in 1929.
    In the 1930s, Durante appeared in several Broadway plays, including Billy Rose's Jumbo (1935), Red Hot and Blue (1936), and Stars Get In Your Eyes (1939) He signed to M.G.M. in 1931, and eventually moved to Los Angeles. His film credits include The New Adventures of Get Rich Quick Wallingford (1931), What! No Beer? (1933), Hollywood Party (1934), George White's Scandals (1934), Strictly Dynamite (1934), You're in the Army Now (1941), It Happened in Brooklyn (1947), On an Island With You (1948), Billy Rose's Jumbo(1962), and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), among others.
    For radio, Durante and Garry Moore co-hosted the Camel Comedy Caravan (1943-1945), and the Jimmy Durante-Garry Moore Show (1945-1947). In 1947, Moore left, and the show became the Jimmy Durante Show, with co-hosts Alan Young in 1948 and Don Ameche in 1949. Durante frequently made guest appearances on other programs, and appeared in various charity broadcasts and in programs broadcast to U.S. troops. On television, Durante hosted the Four Star Revue (1950-51), the All Star Revue (1952-53), The Colgate Comedy Hour (1953-54), and the Jimmy Durante Show (1954-1956). After 1956, Durante did not appear as a regular host, but made guest appearances on variety shows including Club Oasis (1957) and Hollywood Palace (1964). During the 1960s, Durante frequently performed live, successfully reviving his early nightclub career.
    Durante was married to his first wife, Jeanne Olson, a one-time vaudeville performer herself, from 1921 until her death in 1943. He married his second wife, Margaret (Margie) Little in 1960, and the couple adopted their daughter Cecelia Alicia in 1961. Durante died in Beverly Hills, CA on January 29, 1980.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of script material, scrapbooks, photographs, written music, audio recordings, printed material and ephemera, and a small amount of correspondence documenting Jimmy Durante's career as an entertainer on stage, radio, film, and television.
    The script material represents Durante's work as host of radio and television programs including The Chase and Sanborn Hour, the Jimmy Durante Show, Four Star Revue, All Star Revue, and The Colgate Comedy Hour; and his frequent guest appearances on other television and radio programs. The collection also includes script material from Durante's work in films such as Jumbo and The Milkman. There is also a limited amount of script material from his Durante's live comedy and musical performances. In addition to full scripts, also included among this script material are draft scripts, script pages, gag files, sketches, and treatments. Scripts are organized by project type into the following series: Radio Projects, Film Projects, Television Projects, and Unidentified projects.
    The many scrapbooks included in the collection document Durante's career from the 1920s through to the 1970s, and include press clippings and some photographs. Some scrapbooks were compiled to commemorate specific events in Durante's life and career, such as his 1936 and 1952 performances in England, and his 75th birthday. The photographs in the collection likewise document many facets of Durante's career, and include film and television stills, photographs of stage appearances and events, often with notable public figures, and photographs of Durante with collaborators suck as Eddie Jackson, Lou Clayton, Sonny King, and Jack Roth. A number of the photographs document Durante's personal life and include family snapshots and photographs of the Durantes at social functions.
    The large amount of written music and related material are orchestral scores and parts, vocal scores, arrangements, and lead sheets, in both printed and manuscript format. Many of these appear to have been used for Durante's television and radio programs, or were created for the Jimmy Durante Music Publishing Company, and include songs composed by Durante and his frequent musical collaborator Jack Barnett. The written music series also includes a small amount of commercially published sheet music by other composers that may have been used by Durante, as well as lists and indexes of musical numbers that Durante performed. The sound recordings likewise document Durante's radio and television appearances. The majority of these recordings are transcription discs, with a small number of 45 rpm and 78 rpm records and reel-to-reel tapes. The majority of the transcription discs and tapes document Durante's work as a television and radio host on programs including The Jimmy Durante Show, as well as his guest appearances on other programs. The 45 rpm and 78 rpm records consist mainly of commercially released recordings, the majority of which are 45 rpm singles recorded by Durante, but also include recordings by other popular artists.
    Print material in the collection includes a large number of press clippings, the majority of which date from 1960-1980; full copies of magazines that contain articles by or about Durante; and programs from Durante performances and events held in his honor. There is a small amount of ephemera that includes tickets, drawings, and other such material and a number of certificates presented to Durante by various philanthropic organizations, branches of the armed forces, and governments and agencies.
    The small amount of correspondence consists largely of birthday cards, holiday greetings, and well wishes sent to Durante from friends, colleagues, and fans. Finally, there are a very small number of papers pertaining to the Durante family; the majority of this material is clippings about the early career of Marjorie Durante.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Radio Projects
    2. Motion Picture Projects
    3. Television Projects
    4. Stage Projects
    5. Unidentified Projects
    6. Recordings
    7. Photographs
    8. Scrapbooks
    9. Written Music and Lyrics
    10. Song and recording indexes, folders, and set lists
    11. Printed Material
    12. Correspondence
    13. Ephemera
    14. Awards, Certificates, and Honors
    15. Durante family papers

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Actors -- United States -- Archives
    Entertainers -- United States -- Archives.
    Comedians -- United States -- Archives.
    Durante, Jimmy, 1893-1980--Archives